News / Africa

Ugandan Wins Africa Rural Connect Contest

Johnstone Baguma's idea focuses on strengthening the capacity of small-scale rural maize farmers in western Uganda

Vitamin A-enriched orange maize is a possible new weapon in the fight against malnutrition among the world's poor.
Vitamin A-enriched orange maize is a possible new weapon in the fight against malnutrition among the world's poor.

Multimedia

Audio
James Butty

A Ugandan is the grand prize winner of the Africa Rural Connect contest organized last year by the National Peace Corps Association to solicit ideas on ways to improve the lives of rural farmers in Africa.

Johnstone Baguma is founder and executive director of Toro Development Network, a community-based, non-governmental organization that promotes access to, and strategic use of, information communication technologies for development in western Uganda.

Baguma’s idea focused on strengthening the capacity of small-scale rural maize farmers, particularly on production for urban markets.

He told VOA his organization is grateful for the award which, he notes, will go a long way in helping farmers in western Uganda who, he said, have been exploited for a long time.

“As Toro Development Network, we are planning to continue with this project, especially hoping that farmers who are mainly involved in maize growing, how we can help them improve on their production, how they can be able to market their produce because they have been heavily exploited,” he said.

Baguma also hopes the $12,000 prize will enable his organization to further assist rural farmers manage their post-harvest losses, as well as connect them to prospective urban buyers.

He said his organization wants to use basic communication tools, such as mobile phones, to support rural development.

“We realize that, because of the lack of communication, there is a lot of lagging behind, especially in the agro-business sector, looking at issues of how production can be increased, looking at issues of marketing, farmers were being exploited because they couldn’t know different prices in different areas. So, we mainly focus on how we can promote (the) use of basic communication tools for these farmers. For example, we’re looking at mobile phones to be able to connect with different prospective buyers,” Baguma said.

Baguma said the Toro Development Network is also looking at the use of local FM radio stations in the region to help farmers share knowledge about production and how to market their produce.

He said his project is targeting maize farmers because the maize crop has a multiplier effect.

“The maize crop is a staple food in this region. By the same token, the maize crop is a cash crop. Farmers can actually be able to sell and expand on their income. So, we are looking at food security; we are also looking at expanding the economic status of our farmers,” he said.

Baguma said he hopes international development organizations would emulate the approach of the National Peace Corps Association by asking for local public input before formulating any development strategy.

“That is very important; allow the people in the communities to express what they feel can work best for them, and I believe that, if this approach is adopted by a number of donor organizations, I think it would be a good approach to enable to realize more benefit,” Baguma said.

Molly Mattessich, manager of online initiatives for the National Peace Corps Association, said her organization has been impressed by the quality of ideas coming from Africa.

“We think we’ve created a platform for people living in rural Africa to collaborate with Peace Corps volunteers with different organizations from different countries to develop some of the best ideas. So, we are very proud of giving a voice to people who previously did not have a place to post their ideas,” Mattessich said.

She said the National Peace Corps Association will continue to maintain the website, www.AfricaRuralConnect.org for people to continue posting their ideas and contacting other potential organizations.

You May Like

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs